En-En-Koku has often reported on the growing interest in Japanese food in the world since it was registered as a World Heritage site. While Japanese restaurants such as sushi and ramen shops are gaining popularity overseas, a new cafe specializing in onigiri (rice ball) is about to appear in New Jersey, the United States.

Onigiri debuts in Jersey!
Onigiri debuts in Jersey!

The name of the cafe is Koro Koro - Rice Ball Cafe. It is the first "Japanese style" rice ball specialty restaurant in Jersey City. The name "Koro Koro" was taken from an old Japanese story, "Omusubi Kororin". The company is currently seeking funding through Kickstarter.

The menu includes a number of onigiri made with white or brown rice and stuffed with a variety of ingredients. The onigiri are said to be made to order and served warm to customers.

Looks like To go is available.
Looks like To go is available.

A portion of the menu is shown below. In parentheses are examples of the ingredients used.

MISO BEEF (beef, miso, green onion, ginger, etc.)
CUBAN (pork, black beans, plantain)
SPICY SALMON (salmon, kimchi, garlic chili, mayonnaise)
INDIAN (chickpeas, carrots, sweet potatoes, curry, Indian spices, etc.)
YAMA CHICKEN (chicken, wild vegetables, coconut, green curry, etc.)
MORROCAN (chiles, red peppers, raisins, pine nuts, etc.)
COCHINITA PIBIL (pork, habanero, cilantro, garlic, lime, etc.)
MEDITERRANEAN (butterfly thistle flower cores, dried tomatoes, black olives, etc.)

MEDITERRANEAN (=Mediterranean) or something too fashionable to know what it is...
MEDITERRANEAN (=Mediterranean) or something too fashionable to know what it is...

As you may have noticed from the menu, the ingredients are not "Japanese" at all. While the pickled plums are the only "Japanese" onigiri, the other ingredients are all unfamiliar to Japanese people. Some of them we cannot even imagine what they taste like.

Still, it is nice to see a "traditional food" that is indispensable to the Japanese people being recognized around the world. Will onigiri become the new "healthy fast food" in the U.S.? It will be interesting to see how it develops in the future.

All images are from Koro Koro - Rice Ball Cafe.